With fall officially upon us, I’m beginning to crave comfort food more than ever. So on what I thought would be a cold rainy fall day, I spend the entire day cooking foods that bring comfort – pancakes for breakfast, thick velvety cauliflower leek soup for lunch and these beautiful vegetable quinoa stuffed zucchini for dinner. A change from the usual stuffed bell peppers (which I love!), these babies provide the comfort of a fall dish with the colours of summer. Perfect for those days warm fall days that have us still holding on to summer.
These are amazing! Healthy, satisfying and easy to make, they can also be prepared a day in advance and popped in the oven when you are ready to eat. Plus the variations of vegetables you can use are endless (I’m typing this as I remember the eggplant sitting in my fridge). And for those who like it cheesy, add a little mozzarella and pop under the broiler for a few minutes to add a delicious golden layer to your dish. Serve with a salad or a light soup and there you have the perfect complete meal.
Vegetable Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium red pepper, finely diced
2 tomatoes, finely diced
6 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
1/3 cup quinoa
4 large fresh basil leaves, torn
1 cup Parmesan, grated
1. First, cook the quinoa according to package directions. Typically for 1/3 cup of quinoa, use 2/3 cup of water. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the olive oil is shimmering, add the onions and red pepper. Sauté until the onions soften a bit, about 8 minutes.
3. In the meantime, cut the zucchini lengthwise and scoop the centre out. I found that the best tool for the job is a teaspoon. Keep the zucchini centres and chop them up.
4. Back to the onion/red pepper mixture, add the tomato, chopped zucchini, thyme and salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes. Add the spinach and combine until the spinach wilts. Remove pan from heat and add the quinoa, basil and Parmesan. Stir to combine.
5. Preheat oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (makes clean up so much easier). Arrange zucchini on the baking sheet and, using the same teaspoon, spoon the mixture evenly in each zucchini.
6. Cover the baking sheet with foil and pop in the oven for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes are up, serve it up on a plate and dig in!
[All photos are my own and not to be used without permission]